A new order issued by Utah health officials heralds a safe return of rites of passage that have been enjoyed by decades of high school students: Dances and overnight travel for activities.
Patterned after the successful “Test to Play” and “Test to Stay” protocols that have opened doors for students to remain engaged in activities and in-person learning, the new COVID-19-related directives, referred to as “Test to Dance” and Test to Travel,” are part of the directives that took effect on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Plans for safe school-sponsored dances can start immediately at Canyons District high schools. Because of the logistics required, however, Canyons high schools can plan up to two school-sponsored dances before the end of the school year.
High schools holding dances must heed safety guidelines, including masks for all participants, who also must not exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19. They also must have completed any required quarantine or isolation periods prior to the event. Hand sanitizer will be provided, too. The order also requires students who plan to attend the first school dances since the start of the pandemic to take COVID-19 tests within 48 hours before the activity.
Students who test positive before the event will not be able to attend. Students who choose not to adhere to the testing requirements will not be granted entrance to the activities.
To adhere to health protocols, the number of people at the dance cannot exceed 25 percent capacity of the venue. Students also must attend by a school-assigned co-hort. If the event must be held in sessions as a result of the space restrictions, then the venue will be thoroughly cleaned in between each session.
Under “Test to Travel,” student groups who want to make in-state overnight travel plans must also be tested within 48 hours before they leave for the activity. Symptom checks for COVID-19 also will be required. As in the “Test to Dance,” the traveling participants must have completed any required quarantine or isolation periods prior to the event.
Other requirements for CSD students: Only two students will be allowed to share one room, and no more than two students can occupy one bus seat. Masks also must be worn and hand-sanitizer will be available. Team dinners will be eschewed in favor of grab-and-go meals. Volunteer chaperones associated with the program must adhere to the same testing and safety guidelines. Coaches and other employees are encouraged be tested prior to the event, per state guidelines.
The order also makes adjustments to the “Test to Stay” protocols now being used in Canyons schools to safeguard in-person learning schedules and promote safe participation in activities.
If a school holds a “Test to Stay” event upon reaching a 1 percent COVID-19 case-count, at least 60 percent of the student body needs to participate. If fewer than 60 percent of the students participate, then those who did not test need to learn online for 10 days.
Also, if more than 2.5 percent of those who test are positive, then those who choose not to test also must learn online for 10 days, in addition to those who test positive and are asked to isolate for the recommended period of time.
This order will remain in effect until March 25, 2021 until revised, amended or rescinded.